Saturday 26 April 2014

Australian Pride, Sonic Masala Style (Pt1)

SO MANY AUSSIE BANDS DOING GOOD THINGS. So let's check some of the most recent ones out!

Let's start with my currently most played song from one of the best bands in Australia. 'Flesh War' is the first taste from the upcoming Total Control record Typical System, coming out on the excellent Iron Lung label. It's shaved away some of the industrial dirge that lurked in the corners and fully embraced the 80s Gothic New Wave. This doesn't even feel Australian - if it weren't for Mikey Young's guitar lines, I would thing we were in Berlin on a snow blasted Sunday, time indeterminate, all pofaced and windswept, black coats and wasted gazes. In short, it's amazing. Cannot wait to hear how this all comes together - colour this my most anticipated release of 2014. Always a dangerous comment to make - but it can't be unmade now...

Three bands are playing tonight in Brisbane that have new music out. Depraved goth rock trio Gazar Strips are launching their second EP Sparkling on yours truly's Sonic Masala Records. I can't go into too much detail as that would be self-aggrandising, but obviously I like it, especially closer 'Bee Mantis'. Pre-order the EP here.

Then there is Naked Maja, who have been steadily building elliptical steam since the release of their Disillusion EP last year. They have a new single at the ready, 'Out Of Mind', and it's a slice of tempered, considered mood, a salubrious offering that nevertheless feels suspended in formaldehyde, the sun piercing the liquid in amber shards, a sleepwalking daydream in between worlds. It's this kind of sun drunk miasmic emotion that this band does so well, a meticulous deconstruction/reconstruction of pop conventions. Great stuff - their The Vagrant EP promises to be another bar raiser.

Finally there is one-man darkness machine The Steady As She Goes, whose Dangerous & Dead LP is a brooding, calculating winner. All brooding theatrics in a minimalist pit, this act is one of the more understated must-see acts in Australia at the moment. It's the fact that the magnetic pull comes from one man, sucking the air out of the room at the first few notes of the guitar, that makes his performances so hypnotic. All three bands, alongside the excellent Barge With An Antenna On It (who are recording new music the following day at Incremental Studios) and Hypnotic Bedrooms, all at the Underdog for a tenner. See you there.

Now for another current favourite album from a band I can't get enough of right now. Melbourne four-piece Nun have released their debut self-titled record through Aarght! (Australia) and AVANT! (Europe), therefore letting it slip that they love exclamation marks. And darkness - plenty of darkness. For Nun is one delectably dark spiral of despair. Opening track 'Immersion II' is by far my favourite due to its chaotic atonal nature, but the way it bleeds straight into 'Evoke The Sleep' is brilliant. Apocryphal synth madness - can't beat that. 

Keeping things dark is label No Patience, who has just brought forth two great releases from doomed soothsayer Lakes and gutter scum Flesh World. Lakes' Carved Remains/Face In The Ash 7" follows hotly on the heels of last year's Blood Of The Grove LP, and these two tracks are another cut above, filled with sworling gothic tension and pent up anguish. There is a vibrating intensity that hums at the heart of these tracks, even as Sean Bailey's delivery seems at once teeth-gnashing and slack-jawed - on the precipice between exultation and damnation. No such tightrope walking for Flesh World though - their Planned Obsolescence EP is a breakneck kick into the abyss. This kind of thrash wasn't made to be heard on anything other than shitty cassettes thrown onto a bonfire, but now that they are on vinyl expect this devilish energy and power to ooze out and consume the world. 

Let's travel to Newcastle now and catch up with Bare Grillz. This band brought out Friends at the beginning of the year, and it's an excellent record that I unfortunately slept on until only a few weeks ago. There is a rawness to the recording where you can hear the mistakes, elements of the studio wouldn't normally take in, and this is the Araldite glue that stick all of this atonal angular aggression in place. It has that hollowed dissonance that some of the NZ bands that dole out this type of warped noise tend to have woven into their DNA, and that is an imminently good thing. A real grower - hopefully the boys return for a show up north sometime soon.

I'm running out of time because I have to go eat a handful of flu tablets so I can make it through the Gazar Strips show tonight alive - although Ill probably try to drown the germs in liquor anyway - so I thought I would end this first instalment of Aussie awesomeness with everybody's favourite, Courtney Barnett. She played The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, she has the video clip out that is at the bottom of this post, and she has this interactive zine about her tour/trip that you can colour. I could write for hours more about this, but Ill leave it for now. Keep between the lines! Come back tomorrow for the next instalment, featuring the likes of Wizard Oz, The Seaport and the Airport, Austin Buckett, Full Ugly, No Action, Freak Wave and lots more!

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